Mommy the Dictionary

We somehow skipped the big bad “Why?” phase in the Baby Squared household, but right now the girls are in a major “what does [insert word here] mean?” phase. You’d think that, being a writer and, incidentally, being very good at the game “Taboo,” I’d be pretty decent at coming up with ways to explain and define words at a preschool level. But I’m finding it a lot harder than I would have expected.

Over the last few days I’ve had to define words like “disappointed” and “concentrate” and “eventually.” Words that I think the girls understand, more or less, in context, but that they seem to occasionally step back and look at and think: whoah.

This morning in the car on the way to preschool we were listening to the rough cuts from Alastair’s new album (coming in September!) The title track, “These are my friends” is about play and imaginary “friends” ranging from Barbie dolls to rubber balls to stale French fries. A line in the chorus says, “They may look like odds and ends to you, but these are my friends.”

As we were listening to this, Elsa asked “what are odds and ends?”

I replied, “well, bits and pieces of things.”

Elsa (naturally): What are bits and pieces?

Me: Um…well, you know, stuff. Little objects. This and that. Junk.

Elsa: So in the song, people think he’s friends with junk?

Me: Well…sort of.

And then there are the thornier definitions — not so much definitions as explanations of morals and ethics. Which, I suppose, fall more under the “why” category. We had an incident last week where I told Elsa she couldn’t have any more Post-it notes to draw on (because, you know, fourteen is really quite sufficient) and then when I left the room she took a few more. So freakin’ obvious. I confronted her about it, and she tried to lie (four year olds = terrible liars) and then I asked her if she was lying to me. She confessed.

But then she asked, “Why is it bad to lie?” You’d think this would be an easy one to answer, but try it. It’s harder than you’d think.

P.S.  Less than a week until the official launch of EDEN LAKE! It will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc, but if you want a signed copy you can order it directly from me on my website.

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Photo: Valley Library (Oregon State University)

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